Documentary film on ‘Patria y Vida’ wins award at U.S. film festival

Patria y Vida: The Power of Music has won the Special Jury Award at the 2023 Bend Film Festival. The documentary is based on the song that has become the anthem of freedom for Cubans still in the chains of communism. According to the judges, the film was recognized “for the illuminating and life-affirming way it Illustrates the power of music to inspire change, encourage solidarity, fight censorship and freely proclaim our collective humanity….”

Here’s more on the award via Periodico Cubano (my translation):

‘Patria y Vida: The Power of Music’ wins the Special Jury Award in the U.S.

The documentary “Patria y Vida: The Power of Music” won the Special Jury Award this week at the recently concluded Bend Film festival in Oregon, U.S.

“We just won the Jury Award at the Bend Film Festival. And that’s even before we’ve premiered it to the public, and we’re only at festivals. What’s coming, no one knows, only God knows,” wrote Yotuel Romero, the documentary’s producer and one of the performers of the song that inspired the film, on Facebook.

He also directed his words to dissident rapper Maykel Castillo Pérez (Osorbo), another performer of “Patria y Vida,” who is currently imprisoned by the Cuban regime serving a 9-year sentence. “Brother, I promised you that we won’t stop until the Oscars,” added the rapper, addressing Osorbo.

When announcing the awards, the festival’s official page explained that the documentary was awarded “for illuminating and life-affirming way it Illustrates the power of music to inspire change, encourage solidarity, fight censorship and freely proclaim our collective humanity.”

The Bend Film Festival also highlighted how it’s a powerful story of six Afro-descendant rappers who have rewritten Cuban history and unleashed a lyrical battle for human rights through a song called “Patria y Vida,” which won Song of the Year and Best Urban Song categories at the 2022 Latin Grammy Awards.

The documentary, which lasts an hour and 20 minutes, is directed by Beatriz Luengo and includes interviews with Yotuel and other performers of the song, such as Alexander Delgado, Randy Malcom, and El Funky.

The film tells the story of the song’s growth from when it was written until the moment it won two Latin Grammy Awards, with special attention paid to Maykel Osorbo and the independent visual artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, both participants in the project who remain imprisoned.

The documentary also shows footage filmed in Cuba on July 11, 2021, during the massive protests against the regime, where thousands of people chanted the phrase “Patria y Vida!” to demand the end of the regime.

Premiered in March at the Miami Film Festival, the documentary emotionally summarizes the history and connections that made the iconic song a national anthem of rebellion against Castroism since July 11, 2021.

In April of this year, the film won an award in the Best Documentary category at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

“This award is dedicated to my brother Maykel Osorbo and to Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who are still imprisoned for the freedom of our country,” Yotuel wrote on that occasion.

“Patria y Vida: The Power of Music” premiered on March 5 at the 2023 Miami Film Festival, and the event was attended by figures from the Cuban music scene and world-renowned artists such as Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Camila Cabello, and Gloria Gaynor, the performer of the iconic song “I Will Survive.”

The documentary was also presented at the Málaga Film Festival in Spain, where it received five minutes of applause and shouts from the audience of “Patria, vida y libertad!” (Homeland, life, and freedom!).

In September of this year, the documentary was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the category of Best Long Version Music Video.

On that occasion, when celebrating the news, Yotuel Romero also dedicated the nomination to Maykel Osorbo and to all Cuban people, “those who are on the front lines on the island and those who are outside fighting for their own.”

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